Chris Lane Shows Versatility on Debut ‘Girl Problems’
Urban-infused Country up-and-comer Chris Lane showcases his versatility (and incredible vocals) on full-length debut, ‘Girl Problems.’
Chris Lane is the latest newbie to enter into the country realm. The problem is, Lane isn’t 100% country. Lane is from the new school of music where eclecticism plays a gargantuan role. That means that Lane’s debut album, Girl Problems, embraces pop and urban influences alongside country. The results aren’t perfect, but more often than not, Girl Problems showcases Lane’s strengths and his potential.
“Fix” kicks off Girl Problems soundly. “Fix” successfully fuses country, pop, and R&B. Vocally, Lane sounds invested; his runs and falsetto are on-point. Who’d of thought banjos and urban cues could work hand in hand?
“For Her” features a similar script, with respectably flawed results. The main objections are heavy-handed banjo and the stark contrast between verse and chorus stylistically. Regardless, “For Her” is a grower and Lane sounds great.
“Let Me Love You”
Lane takes a risk on “Let Me Love You.” That risk pays off, as the countrified interpretation of the 2004 Mario hit is better than expected. He doesn’t supplant the former no. 1 hit, but does it justice by all means. Banjos keep strumming on “Who’s It Gonna Be” despite the fact it sounds the least country of the four tracks as of yet. There’s little, if any twang, making this urban-pop through and through.
“Back To Love” arrives timely. It changes both pace and a “potential pigeonhole.” While “Let Me Love You” is a mid-tempo ballad, Girl Problems needed a country ballad. This song plays true to country, Lane’s ‘home genre.’ Furthermore, after so many energetic, faster numbers, pulling back was prudent.
The abrupt start of “Maybe” is off-putting. This is often the case for songs that fail to prepare the listener with an intro. Once “Maybe” becomes ingrained, it is more enjoyable. Lane nails the chorus – that falsetto!
“Her Own Kind of Beautiful” is dripping in gimmickry and swag. Lane over exaggerates the twang on the verses. It’s ‘tongue in cheek’, but comes off schmaltzy. At the same time, he seems confident as he sings about her beauty – there’s swag thrown in there.
“All the Time”
“All the Time” is bold – country meets blue-eyed soul meets EDM. Again, it’s arguable whether the banjo is a deal breaker. Rhythmically, it enhances, if the wrong choice of instrument. “All the Time” is left of center for country, but then again, it lays the groundwork for the future of the genre at the same time, for better or worse.
“Circles” features the sole guest of Girl Problems, MacKenzie Porter. Another country ballad, this is the perfect duet to appeal to the traditionalist base. Soundly produced, it’s not overproduced, but just right.
The twang and energy return on “Saturday Night.” “Saturday Night” balances pop and country exceptionally. There is clear crossover appeal, but Lane doesn’t overshoot. Penultimate record “All About You” is smooth but not particularly notable compared to “Fix.” Title track “Girl Problems” concludes on a ‘high note’, embracing some old-school country cues. Still, there might be enough swag – not to mention relatability – to make it appeal to pop audiences.
All in all, Chris Lane showcases great potential throughout the course of Girl Problems. The album is imperfect, but there are enough enjoyable and respectable moments to outweigh the flaws. The banjo suffers from overkill, but Lane’s terrific falsetto serves as atonement – to an extent.
Gems: “Fix,” “Let Me Love You,” “Who’s It Gonna Be,” “Circles” & “Girl Problems”
Chris Lane • ‘Girl Problems’ • Big Loud • Release: 8.5.16
Photo Credit: Big Loud